Things are really heating up in Asheville following the release of body cam footage of Officer Christopher Hickman beating and tasering Johnny Jermaine Rush while he was on his way home from work. Since the release, the officer has been pulled off the street and Black people in the community are on pins and needles. Tensions are rising and apparently an “outside agitator” is attempting to stoke the flames between the police and the community they are supposedly sworn to protect and serve. An unidentified male is said to have spray painted the North Carolina Fraternal Order of Police in Asheville lodge with the words “Black Lives Matter”.
The Citizen-Times reports that officers are currently investigating the incident at the local FOP chapter lodge. The vandal is reported to have also damaged a security camera during the incident.
Christina Hallingse, a spokeswoman with the Asheville Police Department (APD), said the incident took place at approximately 4 a.m. Monday. The FOP’s lodge is located at 18 Piney Park Road in Asheville. The FOP reported the incident to police at 1 p.m.
The president of the lodge, retired police officer Rondell Lance, said the lodge was unoccupied all weekend. The last time anyone was there was Friday according to Lance. He did state that there are cameras on the property which caught the culprit in the act and the tapes have been turned over to police.
“I pulled up here this morning and was just taken aback,” Lance said. “I wondered who would do this and why would they do this to our lodge.”
Lance added that the suspect also took down the lodge’s U.S. flag and “ran it back up upside down.” He estimated the total amount of damages to the property to be around $5,000.
Was it really a BLM faction that vandalized the property or was it an individual looking to incite discord in the community?
Lance can’t say for sure but he identified the vandal as a White male. “I’m thinking it’s more of an ANTIFA or anti-government-type person rather than somebody that’s involved with Black Lives Matter,” Lance said. “It’s someone just trying to keep the community upset and trying to stir up strife in the community.”
Lance cited his continued open dialogue local BLM organizer DeLores Venable. Lance has also reached out to the local NAACP chapter. He concluded, “I don’t think they would have someone come out here and do this.”
Yesterday we reported that a local youth pastor is looking to inspire more kindness to officers. That message is not being received by everyone and rightfully so. Considering the monumental hurdles that Black people in America and around the world have to surmount from systemic oppression and discrimination to a social construct built on their backs to exploit them some Black people are getting fed up.
It is this same system of discrimination that allowed Officer Hickman, an officer with a history of aggression towards African Americans, the opportunity to exert his disdain towards Blacks on Rush. It is this same system that created the conundrum for Rush, fight or flight. The added scrutiny through the lens of bias and hate Black people are forced to maneuver through breeds the same dysfunctions the country purports to be against.
In a rare ray of light, Hickman has been arrested and charged with felony assault by strangulation, misdemeanor assault inflicting serious injury and misdemeanor communicating threats.
According to Lance, the FOP does not stand by Hickman’s actions and have condemned him. Could it be the lodge was vandalized in retaliation to the FOP ostracizing Hickman?
“From our standpoint, we just hope there’s one guy responsible,” Lance said. “We think it’s just one person for whatever reason and they chose when there’s all this turmoil in the community to do this crime. We still are going to be a part of the community and we’re still going to find solutions.”